QUICK REVIEW: Peanut M&M’s Sweet & Salty Snack Mix

Peanut M M s Sweet  Salty Snack Mix

What is it?

A mix of two types of M&M’s — peanut and peanut butter — with peanuts and pretzel balls. There’s also a milk chocolate version available with milk chocolate and Crispy M&M’s mixed with almonds and pretzel balls.

How is it?

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Solid, but unspectacular. Even though the pretzel balls are pictured sparingly on the outside of the bag, they seem to be the most populous of the residents inside the bag. The peanuts are a touch disappointing in that they are neither sweet nor salty.

It might have been better if they were salted or honey roasted; instead, they are just kind of there and don’t differentiate themselves from their brothers and sisters encapsulated in chocolate with a candy coating. Despite those shortcomings, the mix of the four components does accomplish the stated goal of being sweet and salty, and overall it makes for a tasty, satisfying snack.

Is there anything else I need to know?

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Using a trick perfected by potato chip industry, the bag is much larger than it really needs to be based on the contents inside. While the label proudly trumpets that it is “Sharing Size,” I’d advise using restraint before announcing to friends, family, or co-workers that you are indeed open to sharing a bag. The label says there are “about 8 servings,” but if you invite more than two others into your circle of sharing then no one is going to get much.

Conclusion:

There’s really nothing remarkable about this product, and it would be pretty easy to just create this mix yourself (even if you not a DJ).

With that said, I’ve never seen those little pretzel balls at the store and doing it yourself is never as easy as it looks. So if you like Peanut M&M’s, you’ll enjoy these even though they certainly won’t change your life.

Purchased Price: $2.98
Size: 7.70 oz. bag
Purchased at: H-E-B
Rating: 7 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (1 oz. serving) 130 calories, 7 grams of fat, 2.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 90 milligrams of sodium, 16 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of fiber, 8 grams of sugar, and 3 grams of protein.

REVIEW: Cheetos Stars Summertime Ranch

Cheetos Stars Summertime Ranch

Back in the olden days, there were two varieties of Cheetos: regular (crunchy) and puffs.

Those were dark times for snack food lovers, although as someone who lived through that deprived era I guess I didn’t know what I was missing. Perhaps I was even thankful to have two choices, laughing at my parents who grew up with just the regular version of cheezy goodness.

Of course, now there are so many flavors that I doubt even Chester Cheetah himself can keep track, and he seems too cool to care about such things anyway. Enter the latest addition to the list, Cheetos Stars Summertime Ranch.

Unlike many of the recent introductions, this version doesn’t feature any variation of Flamin’ Hot, spicy, fire, jalapeno, habanero or anything of that ilk. And even though cheddar cheese is far down in the ingredients, there is no orange hue and no cheese taste to these star-shaped puffs.

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So, what do these have to offer? Well, not a whole lot. Basically, these are plain puffs covered with Cool Ranch Doritos dust. Cheetos and Doritos are both owned by Frito-Lay, so maybe there was some kind of accident where uncoated Cheetos puffs fell into a vat of Cool Ranch dust. Or maybe someone in management just wasn’t feeling very creative and lazily decided to just combine two of their products (but wait, they are star-shaped!). Either way, the ingredient lists of both are strikingly similar.

If you are a devotee of Cool Ranch Doritos, you’ll probably like these but not love them. In puff form, these are not as satisfying as chips. These could have been more interesting with more of the original Cheetos cheese flavor mixed with Cool Ranch or even with the crunchy Cheetos base instead of puffs, but Frito-Lay never asked me. They also have not acted on my perfectly reasonable suggestion to bring Mountain Dew-flavored Cheetos to America. (Yes, that’s a real thing, or was a real thing, but only in Japan).

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One of my favorite things about original Cheetos is the orange dust on my fingers at the end of a snacking session. Even when the bag is gone, you still get the bonus of licking the magic dust off your digits. (I would tell you that my dog also likes licking Cheetos dust off my fingers, but that would be gross). As for the Summertime Ranch dust, it’s more of a greasy, speckled coating.

I can’t say that I’ve tried every variety of Cheetos, but I’m pretty sure I’ve munched through at least half, and this one lands toward the bottom of the rankings. Ranch flavor goes well with many things — chips, chicken wings, pizza — and I’ve even heard people use it on something called a “salad.”

Maybe it’s because the snack food industry has conditioned me to believe that Cool Ranch goes with chips and cheese flavor goes with puffs, but this flavor flip was a bit of a disappointment.

(Nutrition Facts – About 37 pieces (28 grams) – 160 calories, 10 grams of fat, 1.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 220 milligrams of sodium, 60 milligrams of potassium, 15 grams of carbohydrates, less than 1 gram of fiber, 1 gram of sugar, and 2 grams of protein.)

Purchased Price: $1.48
Size: 2 5/8 oz. bag
Purchased at: Walmart
Rating: 5 out of 10
Pros: Nice replication of Doritos Cool Ranch flavor. Pretty cool photo of Chester Cheetah on the bag.
Cons: Lack of any Cheetos cheese flavor. Instead of magical cheese dust on your fingers you just get a greasy coating. Not really anything “summertime” about it.

REVIEW: Limited Edition Peach Cheerios Cereal

Peach Cheerios Cereal

Do you stay up at night wondering what the next new flavor of Cheerios might be? I certainly don’t, but if I did it would take me many, many nights before I’d guess peach as the next flavor of the iconic oat cereal.

Not that there’s anything wrong with peaches. Despite being the only fruit honored in a state nickname (Georgia, for those who didn’t pay attention in geography class), peaches don’t get much love when it comes to cereals.

There are plenty of options with apples and a plethora of berries (including two of my favorites, Boo and Franken). But if peaches are your thing, there haven’t been many options, save for a few with peaches in a supporting role. That is until now with the introduction of Peach Cheerios.

The Cheerios folks have already covered the obvious flavors with fruit variants including apple, banana, strawberry, very berry and “fruity,” plus the ubiquitous chocolate, peanut butter and cinnamon. The makers of Cheerios have even been a little daring and gone outside of the cereal box, so to speak, with Dulce de Leche Cheerios, a flavor similar to caramel. And of course, Honey Nut Cheerios has been a popular flavor for many years. Even though Cheerios had pretty much tapped all the major cereal-friendly fruits, the choice of peach still seemed a little odd to me, but after tasting it, also a pretty brilliant one.

Peach Cheerios Cereal 2

Some cereals pack a flavor punch that hits you right in the face, but Peach Cheerios provide a much subtler taste, almost a sweet kiss on the cheek. It’s not overpowering at all, but there’s just enough flavor to add a pleasant hint of peaches, along with a nice peachy aroma.

If you find regular Cheerios to be a little too oaty (or oatey; spellcheck is not giving me a thumbs up on either one so I’m making up words, I guess) and a bit too bland, then you might really like this slightly sweetened version. It’s certainly not a dramatic departure from regular Cheerios with a slightly pinker color and a light glaze of peachiness, but the latter makes all the difference.

Peach Cheerios Cereal 3

My only disappointment is that the addition of milk didn’t produce the peaches and cream taste I thought it might, but instead it seemed to almost wash away a bit of the peach flavor. It was still good with milk, just not quite as good as eating them naked. To be clear, I am referring to the Peach Cheerios being naked, not me. At least as far as you know.

And here’s a random tidbit: It turns out Honey Nut Cheerios don’t contain nuts, but the name isn’t a complete lie as they do contain honey. So, does Peach Cheerios contain peaches? Well, if you consider “peach puree concentrate” to be peaches, then yes. It’s also “flavored with other natural flavors,” whatever that means. The bottom line is that it’s a solid addition to the Cheerios family.

(Nutrition Facts – 3/4 cup – 110 calories, 15 calories from fat, 1.5 grams of fat, 0 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 125 milligrams of sodium, 120 milligrams of potassium, 22 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of fiber, 8 grams of sugar, and 2 grams of protein.)

Purchased Price: $2.87
Size: 23.2 oz. box
Purchased at: H-E-B
Rating: 8 out of 10
Pros: Nice sweetness and taste without being overpowering. You can eat them naked.
Cons: Doesn’t provide a peaches and cream flavor with milk, although it might if you used actual cream. Only here for a limited time.

REVIEW: Canada Dry Ginger Ale and Lemonade

Canada Dry Ginger Ale and Lemonade

Maybe it’s just me, but I’ve always thought of ginger ale as a drink that skews toward the older demographic. I can’t say for sure because I don’t spend much time at skateparks or halfpipes, but I don’t imagine too many people under 21 grabbing an ice-cold ginger ale after doing some kind of extreme sport.

Even for the legally-able-to-drink-but-under-65 crowd, ginger ale is something that might be included in a fancy drink you order to impress a date, but not a beverage you imbibe on a regular basis.

On the other hand, lemonade is a drink for kids. Sure, adults will get a glass at an outrageously marked-up price from the neighborhood stand run by kids who always mess up the directions and either serve the strongest or weakest lemonade ever concocted. And yes, if you are of drinking age you’ve might’ve had lemonade with vodka. But if you are at a fancy dinner for a job interview — like at the type of place with tablecloths and metal utensils — chances are you are not ordering a lemonade (unless said interview is for a job at Country Time or Snapple).

So that brings us to Canada Dry Ginger Ale and Lemonade. As soft drinks go, it’s not very creative or wild. Soda flavors have proliferated over the past decade in a seemingly endless pursuit of the most extreme outcomes to the point where bacon-flavored drinks are passé. And this Canada Dry offering certainly isn’t a fancy craft soda using dragon fruit, passionfruit or other variation of fruit that I’m not certain truly exists.

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It’s just ginger ale and lemonade, but it’s surprising this combination of flavors is really satisfying and refreshing.

The aroma is barely existent, with a faint smell of ginger ale and no lemon at all, and the color is more translucent than you might expect. But the flavor is where this drink shines, as it should. You do have to focus a little to pick out the separate ginger ale and lemonade flavors, as they meld into almost a mellow Mountain Dew-like taste with a bit less citrus kick and a touch less carbonation. Further research confirms that this also makes an excellent mixer with vodka or other spirits.

The label touts that it’s made “from real ginger and real juice,” but before you get ready to count a glass as a daily serving of fruit, take notice that it contains a whopping 1 percent lemon juice. For the mathematically-challenged, included is a visual aid showing 12 ounces of the drink with the amount of lemon juice it actually contains (about 3.5 milliliters). A juice drink this is not.

Canada Dry Ginger Ale and Lemonade 3

I guess this would be easy to make yourself by mixing ginger ale and lemonade, but why go to that trouble when the good folks at Canada Dry have already found the right flavor combination that is surprisingly good.

(Nutrition Facts – 12 fl. oz. – 140 calories, 0 grams of fat, 50 milligrams of sodium, 36 grams of carbohydrates, 36 grams of sugar, and 0 grams of protein.)

Purchased Price: $1.00
Size: 2 liters
Purchased at: H-E-B
Rating: 8 out of 10
Pros: Pleasant, mellow and refreshing flavor. Mixes well with your favorite alcohol.
Cons: Won’t count as your daily serving of fruit. Can’t be sure if this drink will make you feel old or young.

REVIEW: Cinnamon Toast Crunch Blasted Shreds Cereal

Cinnamon Toast Crunch Blasted Shreds Cereal

I do not like Brussels sprouts. I would not eat them here or there. I would not eat them in a truck. I would not eat them with a duck…-billed platypus.

Am I trying to go all Dr. Seuss on you? I could not, would not. But would I eat Brussels sprouts with cinnamon sugar?

Those are foods (assuming cinnamon sugar counts as a food) that I figured were on opposite ends of the tastiness spectrum. What would cinnamon sugar blasted on Brussels sprouts taste like? Since I’m uncertain where the produce section is at my local store (or what Brussels sprouts look like), I’ll leave that question up to you. As a close substitute, I can tell you what the new Cinnamon Toast Crunch Blasted Shreds taste like.

It was with some trepidation that I picked these up, because I put Cinnamon Toast Crunch (CTC) on the Mount Rushmore of breakfast cereals, while Shredded Wheat would go somewhere in the bowels of hell.

I remember when Cinnamon Toast Crunch came out in the 1980s, during a glorious era of sugar cereals when manufacturers didn’t even try to hide how much of the magic white crystals were in them. Just about every cereal had the word “sugar” in it, and if that wasn’t enough, there was even one called Super Sugar Crisp. Sadly, many cereals now trumpet how they have whole grains, help lower cholesterol, and other such nonsense.

So can a cereal that brings together two extremes taste good? Actually, yeah. Obviously, CTC Blasted Shreds are not as good as the original CTC, but it’s still a tasty cereal with a bonus feeling of eating something that is not completely bad for you.

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Upon opening the box, the Shreds did not really have that trademark CTC smell, and they are smaller than I envisioned after seeing an oversized example on the front panel. Even though they’re small, my box contained a good number of conjoined twins that looked more like the larger Shredded Wheat I remember.

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I’m just as likely to eat cereal straight from the box as I am with milk, and these Shreds proved to be quite good sans cow juice. They didn’t seem as heavy or dense as I thought they’d be, and the flavor faithfully replicated the original Cinnamon Toast Crunch cereal while the Shredded Wheat did nothing to detract from that.

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Once you dip them in a milk bath, things get even better. The Shredded Wheat did an admirable job of keeping the milk from making the cereal too soggy while allowing some milk in, resulting in a nice crunch with a hint of softness. The overall texture of the cereal is not as rough as you might expect from Shredded Wheat either, and it still packs a potent sugar punch.

While these don’t quite match the original CTC, they do hit the sweet spot by balancing a tasty sugary cereal with healthy whole grain wheat.

(Nutrition Facts – 2/3 cup – 230 calories, 40 calories from fat, 4.5 grams of fat, 1.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 5 milligrams of sodium, 160 milligrams of potassium, 44 grams of carbohydrates, 7 grams of fiber, 13 grams of sugar, and 4 grams of protein.)

Purchased Price: $2.98
Size: 23.2 oz. box
Purchased at: H-E-B
Rating: 8 out of 10
Pros: Much more fiber and protein than regular Cinnamon Toast Crunch. Tastes good with or without milk. Allows you to brag to others about eating a healthy breakfast of Shredded Wheat (feel free to omit the cinnamon and sugar blast part).
Cons: Not as good as regular Cinnamon Toast Crunch. Doesn’t have the added vitamins and minerals that are typically blasted onto breakfast cereals, which is ironic given the name.